A brewery in central Minnesota is guzzling water from a local well to concoct its craft beers, but the Department of Natural Resources says trout are paying the price.
The St. Cloud Times reported Thursday (http://on.sctimes.com/YLEDPU ) that the DNR will cut the Third Street Brewhouse's water consumption by up to 85 percent next year, saying the well is pulling water from a nearby trout stream. That will force the owners of the brewery in Cold Spring — a town of 4,000 west of St. Cloud — to turn to an already strained city water system.
Even before the DNR notice, the city had been hunting for new wells. High nitrate levels at existing sites have closed two water wells in town, Public Works Director Paul Hoeschen said.
The development at Third Street Brewhouse has forced Hoeschen's hand, but building a new well is time-consuming — and costly. After scouting out a location, taking soil samples and drilling, it can take more than a year to get a new well ready.
In the meantime, Hoeschen has been pushing the DNR to give the brewery more time before the new water use rules kick in — they are currently set to take effect in February. The DNR verbally denied that request, so he put in a formal request for a 10-month extension.
"I would not consider this a crisis," Hoeschen said. "But we have to pull off a daunting task" if they can't get an extension.
DNR hydrologist Nicola Blake-Bradley said the stream in question has been on the agency's radar for years, after a sewer main replacement in the 1980s caused it to dry up and threatened the trout population.
Hoeschen estimated it will cost the city between $300,000 and $1 million to get a replacement well up and running. He said he doesn't blame either the DNR or Third Street Brewing for the city's water problem.
"We just have to work together to solve the problem and come to an agreement," he said.